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Letter of the law could save the whales

12 January 2005

Letter of the law could save the whales

The Government is wasting its energy writing a letter to the Japanese asking for an end to scientific whaling - the time has come for it to take some positive action and use the force of international law, the Green Party says.

"Right now, we need to be down there on a frigate bearing witness to what's going on and making sure all parties are safe," Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"In the longer term, there numerous legal avenues open to the New Zealand Government to try to prevent Japan from conducting commercial whaling under the guise of science.

"If Japan claims it is conducting scientific research in the Antarctic then it has to meet its obligations under the Antarctic Treaty, which both Japan and New Zealand are signatories to."

This treaty requires a state to avoid creating discord in Antarctica.

"Clearly there is considerable discord at present with the Japanese fleet slaughtering these magnificent animals despite the protests of numerous countries, groups and individuals," Mrs Turei says.

"There is an obligation under the treaty to stop the offending activity and engage in dialogue to stop the conflict, but this will not happen if New Zealand does not demand it.

"This treaty also enables signatory countries to place observers on research vessels.

"The Government must exercise its right to do this and have people aboard each of the whaling ships to see just how much, and what, scientific research is done," she says.

"The Japanese may also be in breach of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species by importing these whales into their country from the sea.

"Writing letters of disapproval has proved ineffective in the past. We have tried diplomatic measures and polite appeals many times and nothing has changed. In fact at last year's International Whaling Commission meeting not only did the Japanese ignore the world's pleas to stop whaling, they actually doubled the number they planned to kill," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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